On Saturday my long awaited (well, by me at least) ‘official’ book launch went off brilliantly. Introduced by my friend, Fiona Scott-Norman, my jokes got a few laughs, my thank-yous seemed appreciated and the Q & A with Fiona (and audience) was stimulating and, from the sounds of silence and laughter in most of the right places, entertaining.
My reading and subsequent signing session also felt more like fun rather than anything resembling ‘work’ and although pretty exhausted by the end of the day I was buoyed by the feeling I was (and am) now an ‘officially’ published author—albeit an ‘independent’ one.
“Thank you Melbourne Writers Festival.”
Some people say ‘self-published’ but I prefer ‘independent’ when referring to the mini-publishing house (located in my study) my novel has emerged into the literary mainstream from. ‘Independently published’ is a term which more accurately conveys the fact there may be a single ‘choice-maker/head-honcho’ at BGM Publishing but he aint’ doin’ much by himself; so many people have contributed to the refinement of my initial manuscript and the eventual presentation of it as a paperback and eBook novel.
But yes, the CEO of BGM Publishing Unincorporated does have a lot of responsibility. He alone has to make sure the author meets certain deadlines; he has to arrange editors, proof-readers and marketing strategists, and he has to approve designs and organize printing, packaging and delivery. At the end of the writing-editing-typesetting-choose-your-cover-art day there is only one guy to blame should the whole thing not come together.
Is that pressure? Maybe, but it’s also freedom.
One of the benefits of being truly ‘independent’ is I get to choose. I was reminded of this today when I went in to do a radio interview at ABC studios, Melbourne.
Whilst checking in with the security desk at the Southbank Boulevard location of ABC, I got a little thrill when I signed in and saw ‘Lynda La Plante‘ had also signed in, only minutes before. Having just released by first novel it felt good to be in the company of someone who has had much success in the world of fiction, both in print and with her many television and movie spin-offs.
Then, in the studio café, while waiting for my pre-recorded interview to take place in something they call the ‘Tardis’, I noticed Marieke Hardy, a well known face about town, walking down the studio corridors. No doubt Marieke was due to appear on, or present, something to do with entertainment or literature (she is a regular on ABC Television’s First Tuesday Bookclub afterall) but I didn’t know precisely what she was there for. I was aware she has her own book out recently and wondered if she was, like me, out and about promoting it.
I watched Marieke go, finished my soy latté (which was a bit on the small side—probably a good thing given my caffeine sensitive bladder) and buzzed my way into the across-country linked up studio I would be doing my interview in. My chat with Richard Aedy on his show, Life Matters went very well and although I couldn’t see Richard I could hear him loud and clear in my ‘cans’, feeling as if he was right next to me (the effect, no doubt, the technicians intend the ‘Tardis’ to provide).
Before I knew it, my half-hour discussing the true life source material for The Last Great Day was up and I left ABC central to save my car from preying inspectors and drive it, and my quite content self, home. On that drive I tuned into Jon Faine’s show on ABC and listened to him and Marieke Hardy chat with Lynda La Plante about writing, research and literary festival appearances.
“Ahh,” I thought. “Everything is coming together”.
When Marieke asked Lynda whether she had the authority to accept or reject book cover suggestions offered by her publishing house she was surprised that even someone of Ms La Plante’s worldwide success did not—as Marieke did not—have such right of approval. Driving along I thought about my own novel and the process I went through to choose the final cover. I smiled thinking how, unlike the two very successful writers I was listening to, two writers signed up with big and bigger publishing houses, respectively, I had somewhat more freedom over my final creation.
I certainly got to choose the cover art for my book.
Now, maybe that’s not a good thing? Maybe I could benefit from a team of marketing and design experts bashing heads to produce a stock-moving alternative, a cover that would more effectively entice readers, who will enjoy my novel based on a true story, to buy it?
Not that I didn’t offer early ideas for cover art to my own kind of ‘focus group’. It may have been only a cross-section of friends and acquaintances whom I asked to pick a favourite, but the exercise helped me get confident to make my own choice. Later (after my book was printed, bound and on the way to the distributor), when my old writing lecturer asked his students which of the two possible covers I brought into their professional publishing class they preferred, I was thrilled (and a bit relieved) when they unanimously chose the same one I had already signed off on.
Anyway, as happy as I am with my cover art I think both Marieke and Lynda have fantastic covers too: both well suited to their books genre, and, I’d hazard a guess (having not read either yet), the author’s style.
Here are all three covers. What do you think?